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Tag Archives: Entrepreneurship

  • Meet the Maker: Nancy Rothner of Pinch Me

    In our Meet the Maker series, you hear from our Makers on their journeys as entrepreneurs and how you, The Grommet Community, have changed their businesses for the better.

    Today, we're catching up with Nancy Rothner, the founder of Pinch Me Thereapy Dough. Nancy's experience with holistic stress reduction compelled her to create a portable mood-shifter. Carefully curated aromas and calming hues help you refocus your attention by simply massaging this pliable therapy  dough. Read on to learn more about her entrepreneurial journey.

    Pinch me 1

    What else do you like to make?
    Anything healthy-especially recipes that are simple and delicious.

    Any advice or words of wisdom for Makers just starting their businesses?

    Go for it! Let your creativity flow and follow the momentum. Some days will be filled with joy, others will be filled with doubt, however each breakthrough leads to another, and another. The process will most likely be far more involved and demanding than ever imagined. My running joke is that it is stressful to be in the stress relieving dough business! I wouldn't have it any other way though and have never regretting immersing myself into something that I truly love and believe in.

    Untitled-3

    What has been the most rewarding aspect of starting a business?
    Hearing stories from customers where Pinch Me has made a positive impact on their day to day life. Doesn't get any better than that!

    What has surprised you the most about starting a business?
    A wise entrepreneur once told me to just pick any 18 hours a day I want to work, and I'm all set. I laughed when I first heard this, but have found those words to be true. It's never ending, but a joy. Continue Reading

  • Meet the Maker: Adam Liszewski of Stokes

    In our Meet the Maker series, you hear from our Makers on their journeys as entrepreneurs and how you, The Grommet Community, have changed their businesses for the better.

    Today, we're catching up with Adam Liszewski, the teenage entrepreneur behind Stokes. Stokes are all-natural fire starters that Adam has grown from his original DIY Christmas gifts into a cottage industry—and beyond—in just a few years. Adam’s invention lights fires while helping his local community and the environment . . . and he’s only a teenager. Read on to learn more about his entrepreneurial journey.

    stokes

    What did you want to be when you grew up?
    I am still growing. :)  I just always want to be trying new things, challenging myself, learning, creating things that improve on what’s out there. Like Stokes. Lot of firestarters out there but Stokes (as simple an idea as it is), burns longer and starts easier than what’s out there and also much more environmentally friendly.

    What was the biggest hurdle for you when turning your idea into a business?
    The biggest hurdle in the beginning was getting people to just try my product. Now, I have to say, that my biggest hurdle is time. Time to do everything that needs to be done. I have more help now so that’s great. I have been very lucky to have great partners in Charles River and with distributors and great relationships with stores I sell Stokes to and great fan base who love them. It make things easier and more fun.

    Stokes 2

    Stokes All-Natural Firestarters $9.95

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    What advice would you give other young entrepreneurs?
    Reach out to anyone and everyone to get advice, guidance, and support. But also always listen to yourself. There will always be people who can’t see your idea working when you can. There is always the guy in the room who is negative. Don’t let that negative person stop you–keep going. Be fair in pricing, fair to your employees, and have fun.

    What three personality traits do think have helped you become a successful entrepreneur?
    1. I don’t over react to negative news.
    2. I think I take my time to respond in meetings.
    3. I have a lot of energy. Continue Reading

  • Meet the Maker: Sydney Hewitt of Coast & Cotton

    In our Meet the Maker series, you hear from our Makers on their journeys as entrepreneurs and how you, The Grommet Community, have changed their businesses for the better.

    Today, we're catching up with Sydney Hewitt, the Designer of hometown custom towel company, Coast & Cotton. After graduating from Auburn University with a degree in industrial design, Sydney and her husband, Will, were a military family and moved regularly, giving Sydney the idea for designs that celebrate states. Creating these nostalgia-channeling tea towels turned into a full-time job, and Coast & Cotton was born.
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    cc

    What did you want to be when you grew up?
    I knew from an early age that I wanted to do something in the arts. My dad, a graphic designer, and my grandmother, a watercolor artist, both played a large role in my love of drawing, painting, and creating. As a child, I could sit for hours creating patterns with gel pens and markers all over my notebooks and sketch pads. My parents always encouraged my love of the arts and enrolled me in calligraphy, sketching, and painting classes during my early years. So when it came time to pick a major in college, a design degree felt like a natural fit.

    ...
     How do you get around creative roadblocks?
    Creative roadblocks are definitely part of the process when you work in the design field. My husband and business partner, Will, is my sounding board for all new designs and patterns. When designing a new pattern, I come up with an initial drawing and color scheme, then Will comes in and helps with the layout and spacing. It is crucial to have someone with an eye for space and symmetry to tweak a design and get it just right.
    coast and cotton
     ...
    What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
    Be ok with staying at home, supporting your husband with his career, focusing on your babies, and slowly working on your idea until the time is right. Then jump on it as fast as you can! Don’t rush the process, and don’t be discouraged if it’s not in “your timeline”. The Lord's plan is greater than your own.
    ...
    Best business advice that you ever received?
    Know when you have a good thing. Work hard to constantly improve it, but don’t over improve until it’s not your idea anymore. Look to the trends, but don’t become a trend. Keep your ideas fresh and innovative while still remaining true to your aesthetic.
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    coast & cotton
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    Continue Reading

  • Meet the Maker Podcast: Elena Favilli of Timbuktu Labs

    hireslifestyle_Still_TimbuktuLabsTimbuktu Labs is a media company creating interactive apps, games, and educational materials for kids. 100 Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls is their latest and most celebrated hit as it highlights historic and contemporary women who have left their mark on the world with rich storytelling and beautiful pieces of art from dozens of female artists.

    On this episode, Elena Favilli — the CEO of Timbuktu Labs and the co-author of 100 Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls — and I discuss the inspiration of the book, the preparation for a massive success on Kickstarter, and how their work and this book have become more important in the current political climate.

    Francesca Cavallo e Elena Favilli di timbuktu.me fotografate a "The Hub", Milano, 11/11/11

     

    Like what you hear? Listen to the rest of the Meet the Maker Podcast series here then rate, review, and subscribe on iTunes

  • Meet the Maker: Andris Lagsdin of Baking Steel

    In our Meet the Maker series, you hear from our Makers on their journeys as entrepreneurs and how you, The Grommet Community, have changed their businesses for the better.

    Today, we're catching up with Andris, the inventor of Baking Steel. Years ago, while working with chef Todd English, making incredible pizza in brick ovens, Andris was always searching for a way to make the perfect pizza at home.  While working at his current steel job, Andris read that steel is the best brick oven substitute. He took a scrap home, tested it out for cooking, and the results were delicious. We wanted to learn a bit more about his "aha-moment" and what it's been like starting a business.

    baking steel 4

    What did you want to be when you grew up?
    A professional tennis player.

    What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
    Stop hesitating and just do it. So much fear in uncertainty, you just need to trust yourself and take a leap.

    baking steel

    Best business advice that you ever received?
    I was reading "Crush It" by Gary Vaynerchuk a few years ago before I launched The Baking Steel. His chapter on marketing was literally one word–CARE. Do that and amazing things happen with your customers. So this is what I tell our team, to care.

    What three personality traits do think have helped you become a successful entrepreneur?
    Courage, patience, chasing a little adventure, and being grateful every, single day. Do I get extra credit for four?

    quote

    What lessons have you learned over the years that might help other entrepreneurs who are just starting out?
    Any person who takes that leap will be amazed at what happens when you start doing what you love. Have a little bit of patience and dream big. Continue Reading

  • Meet the Maker: Jennifer Nevins of Savor

    In our Meet the Maker series, you hear from our Makers on their journeys as entrepreneurs and how you, The Grommet Community, have changed their businesses for the better.

    Today, we're catching up with Jennifer, one of the mom-inventors behind Savor. Jennifer, together, with Karla, created a thoughtfully designed keepsake system that is and meant to be seen. Hear more about how these Makers  got their start and what they've as entrepreneurs. 

    Meet the Makers of Savor

    How do you get around creative blocks?
    Research. Research. Research. After we hash out together what we think are the best ideas we can muster, we convene focus groups of relevant audiences. We try to have folks we don't really know in these groups so we can solicit honest advice. We are also constantly engaging with our consumers to see what they like and what they don't like.

    Best creative advice that you ever received?
    Make sure that you're not so attached to a creative idea that you forget your consumer's needs. We value aesthetics greatly, but we also need to make sure our product solves a problem.

    What three personality traits do think have helped you become a successful entrepreneur?
    Courage (to fail, to ask, to put ourselves out there), attention to detail, and sticktoitiveness (it's actually a word–we checked).

    maker Quote Savor

    What lessons have you learned over the years that might help other entrepreneurs who are just starting out?
    Making a business succeed is about much more than having a good idea or a good product. We've had to wrangle with shipping, warehouses, freight, factories, accounting, web design, Google analytics, trade shows, gift wrap, you name it. Most of it is not glamorous, but any break in the chain can keep your business from succeeding. To be successful, you need to feel like none of it is beneath you and all of it is worth doing (even the parts you hate). When we are freaking out having spent two hours on the phone with UPS, we try to think that the fun is in the problem-solving and the reward is that we have truly touched our customers with a product they respond to.

    Maker Photos

    "We work wherever we are. Karla still holds another job and has two kids and I, Jenny, have a household of three kids, so we have to be flexible about when and where we can meet together. Sometimes it's very early weekend mornings or late weekday nights."

    What has surprised you most about starting a business?
    We are constantly amazed at the time people take to tell you how much they love your product or to give helpful feedback. We aren't people who fill out reviews or surveys, so we are surprised and delighted that on a daily basis our customers want to talk to us and share our products with their friends. By far, talking with the end-users of our product is the best part of our job. Continue Reading

  • Meet the Maker: Rhonda Francis of Fairy Fastener

    In our Meet the Maker series, you hear from our Makers on their journeys as entrepreneurs and how you, The Grommet Community, have changed their businesses for the better.

    Today, we're catching up with Rhonda Francis, one part of the triplet-Makers behind Fairy Fastener. Rhonda, Terri, and Lou put their identical problem-solving heads together to solve an everyday issue—how to put on necklaces and bracelets all by yourself. These entrepreneurial ladies call themselves the Fairies—and their jewelry clasp helpers Fairy Fasteners. We recently chatted with Rhonda to learn more about her entrepreneurial journey. 

    makers of fairy fastener Terri, Rhonda, and Lou–Makers of Fairy Fastener

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    How do you get around creative blocks?
    We have been fortunate to know and be introduced to some wonderfully creative and talented people. It takes a village to raise a child, much like the creative development of an idea. We're not afraid to ask for input and guidance. It's amazing how supportive people have been.

    Best creative advice that you ever received?
    Build prototypes, test them. Conduct test market product reviews.

    ...
    What three personality traits do think have helped you become a successful entrepreneur?
    That's a funny question, because our company was founded by triplet sisters. My brother always said I had a third of a brain.  :)
    I feel that the strongest traits for all three of us are, being passionate, commitment to our ideas and to each other, and accepting and embracing risk.

    meet the maker of Fairy Fastener

    What lessons have you learned over the years that might help other entrepreneurs who are just starting out?
    It will be much harder then you think, but you will get past those awkward and uncomfortable moments. You can't do it alone. Choose people to take on responsibilities that are not your strengths. Don't think that you can manage every aspect of a start up. Look at the big picture and develop a solid business plan before you make large financial commitments. Know your target market and develop strategies for them.

    What has surprised you most about starting a business?
    I have learned more then I thought I could, would, or should. I amaze myself, my partners, and my family on my ability, tenacity, and endurance to develop a brand that my sisters and I are proud to sell. Continue Reading

  • Meet the Maker: Hope Klocker and Jules Vranian of Sweet Jules Caramels

    In our Meet the Maker series, you hear from our Makers on their journeys as entrepreneurs and how you, The Grommet Community, have changed their businesses for the better.

    Today, we're catching up with Hope Klocker of Sweet Jules CaramelsHope and her sister, Jules Vranian  were born into a family of culinary pros and restaurateurs, and have built one sweet business using only natural ingredients, sourced from around the world. We wanted to know more about Hope's journey as an business owner and what advice she has for those just starting out on their own entrepreneurial journey. 

    Meet the Maker of Sweet Jules Caramels

    Ho do you get around creative roadblocks?
    Caramel as a base is receptive to an endless number of flavors so we really don’t have blocks with creativity. Our problem is more what “not” to make! We make caramels in a dozen flavors now.

    Best creative advice that you ever received?
    You need to know what your ingredients have to offer in flavor, texture, and smell. Apply creativity and expert technique when those qualities speak to you.

    Continue Reading

  • Meet the Maker Podcast: Will Carswell of Zen Art Puzzles

    commenter_zenWhen you think of puzzles, you think of 1,000 pieces, finding the corners, and taking hours to complete it. Zen Art Puzzles buck the traditional stereotypes. Each puzzle is laser cut from premium birchwood here in America. They're just a few hundred pieces and you can try to find the corner pieces, but there may be six of them. With piece designs ranging from traditional jigsaw to moose silhouette, Zen Art puzzles give you an imaginative way to relax.

    Will Carswell, one of 23 puzzle makers in the U.S. talks about the intricacies of each puzzle and the care he and his company put into each piece of his business from manufacturing in America to using eco-friendly materials for each product.

    videostillv1_zen

    To learn more about Zen Art Puzzles and to purchase, click here.

    Like what you hear? Listen to the rest of the Meet the Maker Podcast series here then rate, review, and subscribe on iTunes

  • Meet the Maker: Mo Seetubtim of The Happiness Planner

    In our Meet the Maker series, you hear from our Makers on their journeys as entrepreneurs and how you, The Grommet Community, have changed their businesses for the better.

    Today, we're catching up with Mo Seetubtim of The Happiness Planner. Happiness is what most of us want more of. And Mo made a daily planner that doesn’t just focus on ticking off a to-do list. It helps you find the good in the everyday. Hear Mo on how she handles creative blocks and how her happiness-boosting business has grown.

    Meet the Maker of The Happiness Journal

    How do you get around creative blocks?
    Sometimes you try so hard to figure out an idea, but it wouldn't come out and then you have a "bing" moment when you're in the shower! This has happened way too many times that I don't stress over creative blocks anymore. I know when it comes, it comes.
     
    I also use Evernote to take notes–shower notes, stuck-in-traffic notes, insomnia notes. Then, I can look back to those ideas again when I feel like I'm ready to start writing or working on the project.
     
    Usually I would go on the internet and search for articles related to what I want to write about or design. Reading different articles and seeing other people's point of view usually give me an idea to a certain extent. I'd jot down the key points that I like and I would ponder upon them later so I could extend on those points.  If by that point, I still feel stuck, I would go for a walk, hit the gym, play the piano, or just go get some food from a cafe I've never been to before.
    I don't try to force myself out of creative blocks much. Usually when you're stressed and busy, it's hard to let your creative juices come out. You just wait until you relax and the light bulb moment will come on unexpectedly.
     
    Best creative advice that you ever received?
    You have to have one single core idea or message. That's one big thing I learned in advertising. You can't tell people that your product is good for A, B, E, H, M, S, and Z. You have to tell your customers that your product is good for A and expand on the A point to A1, A2, A3. At least in one ad, there needs to be only ONE key message or core idea. Otherwise you confuse the customers and they don't remember what you truly stand for.
     ...
    happiness journal
     
    What three personality traits do think have helped you become a successful entrepreneur?
    Determined, creative, strategic.
     ...
     I've always been very determined since little. If you ask my parents to describe a trait I possess, they'd say "determination" (I actually asked them that last time I was home). I've always been a high achiever since back in kindergarten. Being self-actualized makes me happy. I set high goals for myself to achieve and I almost always achieve them. I'm very focused and determined. And I know the value of hard work  and the power of one's willpower and focus. These have proven to me so many times that if I pour all of my heart and soul into something, it will come out however amazing I want it to be. But if I half-heartedly do something, the outcome might be mediocre and not pleasing.  Though, I cope with disappointments well and take them as lessons. My point is if you want to succeed in something great, you have to be very determined.
      ...
    Creative. I always think about how I and my brand could be different. Differentiation is key to everything–getting your brand and message out there, getting recognized, and becoming liked. You can't attract others or stand out if your product or your brand looks like everything else out there because then you're just another X brand. You need to be creative with the attributes of your brand–from functionality to aesthetics.
      ...
    Strategic. I am pretty strategic in my thinking (both in life and business). In life, that is what helps me turn life experiences into wisdoms (which I then pass onto our readers/customers). In business, I always think strategically about the industry, the market, the brand, and the customers. What do/did the other brands do that help them become successful? What are their marketing and business strategies? What are their strengths and weaknesses? How can we do something different and become superior? Strategy is when you think one or two steps ahead of the game.
    Meet the Maker Mo Seetubtim Quote
     
    What lessons have you learned over the years that might help other entrepreneurs who are just starting out?
    Find your unique value proposition. A lot of people start a business just because they think it's a nice idea. A nice idea doesn't sell and doesn't last. You need to do something that you are truly good at and are absolutely passionate about. What is it that you are so uniquely good at that others can't compete with you? For me, it's my words of wisdom and my vision in life . I've always wanted to inspire people since I was little, to live a life of passion and purpose–it's the ethos behind our brand and our story. It will always be there. The way I think is ... uniquely the way I think. My voice is uniquely my voice. I have found my unique talents and I then mastered them and turned them into my calling that becomes the service I offer to the world. Find your unique talents and turn them into your unique value proposition.
     
    What has surprised you most about starting a business?
    That if you create something that truly adds value to people's lives, your business will sell in itself. I never put much effort into advertising. Of course, we have content (blog posts and quotes) which you can say we use content marketing, but the content has been there way long before I started selling The Happiness Planner. I started writing those blog posts several years before I had the business idea. So it's very authentic. I didn't write those articles to sell something. I wrote them specifically because I wanted to share my words of wisdom and the lessons I learned in life. So it surprises me how well The Happiness Planner has been received given that I haven't done much advertising. And it's because The Happiness Planner truly adds value to people's lives so people want to tell their friends and family about it and recommend those they love to use it too. 
     
    What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
    10 years ago I was only 18. I just finished high school and was about to move to Australia. I would probably tell myself not to worry too much. You can make your dreams come true. There's no need to rush. Go one step at the time. You'll get there when the time is right. I was such an ambitious kid and I wanted to accomplish so much in life. But sometimes when you're young and are just starting out, you can be confused and not sure about the path you're taking - you might even be getting a lot of No's and face closed doors. It's okay to remember that even though a No always seems bad at the time, it's just a part of life. The right door will open when you find it. Just keep walking and learning more about what you're passionate and becoming the best at what you're good at. If you want to be successful, you have to be the best in your field. So keep building on your strengths and innate talents. 
     

    To learn more about The Happiness Planner, watch our video here.

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